Youth Culture Window
What do you get if you mix today’s biggest actors, with today’s biggest films, throw in live musical performances, and all the gratuitous, graphic sexual references a 7-year-old can handle?
The 2011 MTV Movie Awards.
A Bi-Polar Evening
Last night while I (Jonathan) was at a graduation party for my 18-year-old son, millions of other Americans were watching the annual MTV Movie Awards. The evening was bi-polar for me. One moment I was sitting in a room surrounded by friends and family listening to my son and his graduating senior peers give a tearful farewell to their youth pastor, thanking him for building into their lives spiritually for the last four years. Two hours later, I sat on my couch, turning on my DVR recording of the MTV Movie Awards for my annual review of what MTV is dishing out to our kids this year: lewdness.
The show wasted no time, opening with the line, “Jason, where the f**k are you?” –a takeoff of the new film, The Hangover Part II. Within minutes, the live audience laughed as we watched excessive drinking, a lesbian sex scene where Natalie Portman’s panties get ripped off (I’m amazed at what MTV is allowed to show when they barely avoid actual nudity)… and the show digressed.
Do we really need to review this show any more?
That’s the question David and I kept asking ourselves as we watched the recording of this show.
But MTV continues to be the number one network watched by teenagers, with their annual award shows repeatedly proving to be “at the center of the pop culture zeitgeist.” The sad truth is, this show is watched by the majority of kids and provides keen insight to the direction our culture is going.
The DNA for Huge Ratings
MTV knows how to draw the attention of today’s young people to these annual award shows. They start by inviting everybody who’s anybody in television and film, plus many musical icons, as well as several singing crossovers like Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez (who appeal to a young crowd). Then, in a genius strategy they began using several years back, they allow the masses to vote for the winners. Finally, they add a raunchy host and sprinkle in two live musical performances by some of today’s biggest names, and they’ve got the makings for a ratings giant.
The 2011 MTV Movie Awards wasn’t about to stray from the recipe they used to make past shows a raging success…even if it meant using rotten ingredients.
This year’s award show was hosted by Jason Sudeikis. Unless you’re a big Saturday Night Live fan, you probably don’t know Sudeikis, so let me introduce him by his work. He starred in Hall Pass, and will be featured later this year in A Good Old Fashioned Orgy and Horrible Bosses.
Yep, you read that correctly.
I gotta say up front, this year’s show gave the filth of last year’s Movie Awards a run for its money. I even think some of the stunts used in the 2009’s award show were a bit embarrassed by what took center stage this year. Here are some of the low-down “highlights” from this year’s show; see if you notice a developing theme.
- The show opened with a spoof of The Hangover where Jason Sudeikis loses “that hot little piece of a**, Taylor Lautner” according to last year’s VMAs hostess, Chelsea Handler.
- The same spoof featured recurring clips of the “lesbian scene” from Black Swan between the underwear-clad Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis. (Unfortunately, it wouldn’t be the last time we saw Kunis get groped.)
- Sudeikis tried out 5, yes 5, Schwarzenegger sex jokes…none of which were funny.
- His opening monologue also included depraved commentary on the difficult choice actress Kristen Stewart has to navigate in the Twilight Saga. “My heart, my heart says Jacob. You know, but my wiener says Edward. My balls are indifferent.”
- When Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis (of Friends with Benefits fame) walked up to the mic to announce the first award recipient of the night, little did viewers know they were in for some of the most graphic sexuality of the evening. The two joked about being completely plutonic – in spite of the movie’s entire plot – and then Timberlake began to fondle her breasts. She responds by grabbing his crotch. Kunis finally delivers her line, “And the award for Best Male Performance goes to…” as Timberlake interjects, “I think we just found that out.” The crowd erupted into a hail of cheers for the sexual reference. Just in case there were any 7-year-olds in the crowd, and sadly, there were, Timberlake clears the air: “What a shameless reference to my penis.”
- During one of Sudeikis’ mid-show comedy routines, he walked through the crowd talking with celebrities. His last celebrity was “the boulder” from 127 Hours, a man wearing a rock suit, who reported that his follow up desire was to go into “porno.”
- During a very raunchy introduction of the Best Kiss award by Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds, that included the cast of Jackass 3D sporting “laser boners” in mockery of Reynolds’ upcoming film The Green Lantern, the homosexual advances of Donald Trump were described.
- When Jim Carrey took the stage to introduce the Foo Fighters, he was dressed in the “latest chroma key technology,” which simply meant that producers could project onto his clothed body whatever images they chose. About five times in his 30-second speech, they showed two dogs having sex.
- During another of Sudeikis’ mid-show antics, he sang theme songs he’d written for several of the movies. In one of them, he and Emma Stone sang about having a Golden Shower, the sex act whereby one person urinates on the other.
- And finally, during Robert Pattinson’s INCREDIBLY AWKWARD introduction of Reese Witherspoon’s Generation Award, he stumbles through references of portraying both her son and her lover in different films. The crowd can’t even catch where he’s going, so when she walks up to receive the award, she concludes his ill-delivered joke. “The punch line to your joke is, ‘I played your mother, then we had a sex scene, so you’re the best mother fu**er in Hollywood.’” (During this really weird rant, an F-bomb went uncensored.)
Sadly, MTV probably achieved their goal: ratings.
The 2011 MTV Movie Awards were available to a potential viewing audience of “more than 1.2 billion people via MTV’s global network of more than 60 channels that reaches nearly 600 million households around the world as well as through syndication.” When all the numbers are said and done, the show will have been watched by millions upon millions of young people and downloaded in the week to follow by literally millions more.
The show is all about the biggest movies of the last year. Well, almost. It’s MTV, so don’t expect any nods to go to films like The King’s Speech, which received 12 Oscar nominations, and won 4 of them, including Best Picture. But you can expect movies like Kick Ass, Piranha 3D, Just Go With It, Easy A, and No Strings Attached to be nominated among the…ummmm…“categories.”
While the show purports to be about awards for movies, it’s not. What it really is, is a cleverly concealed commercial for MTV’s upcoming television shows. (More on that in a moment.)
Regardless, there were awards given. The list of winners can be found here. Of all the awards, I must say the two that stuck out in my (David) mind – for all the wrong reasons – were the Generation Award and the Best Line from a Movie Award.
Simply put, Reese Witherspoon disappointed me. This morning the Boston Globe concluded, “We've turned a real cultural corner when Reese Witherspoon is more vulgar than Jim Carrey.” Reese Witherspoon has usually portrayed loveable and virtuous roles throughout her long career. Yet, when she took the stage to receive her Generation Award, she traded that persona for one far less wholesome. As already mentioned, she used coarse language, and then joined in the sex talk spearheaded by Pattinson and Handler.
But she also had some “advice” to give those who might want to one day walk in her stilettos. “If you take naked pictures of yourself with your cell phone, you hide your face.” Speaking at girls again, she continued, “It’s also possible to make it in Hollywood without a reality show.” She concluded her thoughts with “It’s possible to be a good girl. I’m gonna try to make it cool.”
Sooo…a good girl is one who avoids the embarrassment of including her face in a nude pic…not a girl who avoids taking nude pics, altogether? And why did Witherspoon feel the need to blur the line between “cool” and “good?” In reality, those two are often the opposite of one another.
Seeing Witherspoon lose some of her “goodness” was definitely sad, but it wasn’t the saddest part of the evening. That moment belonged to Alexys Nycole Sanchez, the 7-year-old girl from Adam Sandler’s Grown Ups who’s famous for exclaiming, “I want to get chocolate wasted!” (Even if you never saw the movie, you probably remember this scene from some of the trailers.)
Little Alexys handled herself very well when her name was called. She ascended to the podium with all the poise a 7-year-old can muster. She thanked all those responsible for her role in the film, and even thanked God. She then repeated the line that made her famous. In short, it was pretty cute.
What’s sad about that you ask?
Well, she heard all the foul language of the evening…completely uncensored. She saw grown men and women grope each other. She saw two women disrobe and fondle each other. She heard people describe erections for several moments. In short, Alexys saw everything you just read about.
And she’s 7.
I thought her 30-second acceptance speech provided us with a reality check…if we were paying attention. Our children – not just teenagers – are watching this kind of entertainment. Sadly, that is true in households all across the world. If this year is like years past, Alexys wasn’t the only 7-year-old watching MTV that evening.
The MTV Cycle Continues…If We Let It
I told you earlier that this annual awards show is really just an advertisement for MTV’s upcoming television show. This year, that show “happened” to be Teen Wolf, a Gen Y version of the 1980s movie starring Michael J. Fox.
MTV clearly chose well. The Movie Awards show, which was dominated by The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, served as the perfect segue into the new TV show about werewolves. I watched the first half hour of the new show as I wrote this article; it’s not I Love Lucy, but it’s also not The Hard Times of RJ Berger, the TV show introduced last year. (I’ll probably write about this show for a future Youth Culture Window article so parents and youth workers can stay informed without having to watch it themselves.)
Each year, the MTV Movie Awards uses entertainment to promote entertainment. It’s almost comical how audacious they are in their tactics.
Back to Reality
As I (Jonathan) finished watching the show (I’ll be honest, “skimming” is a better word. I love my fast-forward button on my DVR!), I longed to be back to where I sat a few hours prior, surrounded by friends and family, “holding tightly to the hope we affirm…motivating one another to acts of love and good works…and encouraging one another.” (Hebrews 10:23-25).
Sometimes parents find it difficult to decide what entertainment is and isn’t acceptable for our kids. Fortunately, MTV has made the choice easy for us once again. I pray that most parents realized this and made good use of their remote control that evening… particularly the “off” button.
David R. Smith
is a 15-year youth ministry veteran who helps youth
workers and parents through his writing, training, and speaking. David specializes in sharing the
gospel, and equipping others do the same. He co-authored his first book this year,
Ministry By Teenagers
. David provides free
resources to anyone who works with teenagers on his website, DavidRSmith.org
David resides with his wife and son in Tampa, Florida.
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